Years ago I was watching an episode of 7th Heaven, and the mom character was telling the kids that they were having homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner with blueberry muffins. For whatever reason that just stuck with me and the first time I ever made homemade chicken noodle soup I also made the muffins. It turns out that it really does go well together, so now anytime I make a chicken and pasta based soup I make some sort of muffin to serve with it. In my experience, the muffin pairing is best when it is not overly sweet, it doesn’t have to be savory but I usually do make something with low sugar in it. Since it is October, I thought pumpkin muffins would be a natural choice. I had yet to break out the pumpkin this year so I was even more excited to put together a recipe for these muffins. I always buy the 30oz size of pumpkin because it is more economical but I do have to plan ahead and make 2 pumpkin dishes at once, you could also just double this recipe and freeze half the muffins for another time.
I was searching for a pumpkin muffin recipe that would be healthy, taste great without being overly sweet and have cream cheese filling. I did not find such a recipe so I improvised and combined aspects from 4 different pumpkin related baked goods. The muffins turned out great, they were moist and flavorful and the little bit of cream cheese in the center was the perfect amount. We had carved pumpkins over the weekend so we went ahead and toasted the pumpkin seeds and used them as a topping on the muffins along with some natural sugar crystals. Other great topping ideas would be walnuts or pecans or any type of toasted seeds.
Place the entire block of cream cheese in the freezer for 2-3 hours before making the muffins. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processer place the oats and blend well making an “oat flour” consistency. Add the remaining dry ingredients, except for the raisins and your toppings, and pulse just until they are combined. In a large mixing bowl add all of the wet ingredients and stir to incorporate, add the dry ingredients from the food processer to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined, do not over stir, then add the raisins.
Prepare your muffin tin with either cooking spray or cupcake wrappers and then add roughly two tablespoons of batter to the bottom of each muffin cup. Take the cream cheese out of the freezer and cut into 24 even pieces and place one square in each cup. If you are only making 12 at a time then place the other half of the cream cheese back in the freezer until you’re ready for the second batch. Add more batter to each cup making sure to cover the cream cheese and fill almost to the top. Place whatever topping you choose on top and bake for 15 minutes, check for doneness and continue baking if needed. Remove from muffin tin after 5 minutes and place on cooling racks, store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Much Love, Aislinn and Emily